Sundance Review

My experience at Sundance was fascinating!

We had an excellent crowd for the 1st annual "168-Dance" at St. John's Anglican Church. We showed 5 films and talked unashamedly about faith and filmmaking. Pastor/Actor Doug Folsom and Director Wes Llewellyn (UNBOUND, A GOOD DAY, CROSS WALK, THE MOMENT AFTER 1-2) were on tap to explain their films and filmmaking style. Also making an appearance were filmmakers Jeff Bartsch and Chris Roberts (Vote for the cat now at voteforthecat.com).

It was a very interesting to watch Doug Folsom show his film and tell his new congregation about his role in the 168 Film, "I Believe," in which he plays a hypocritical, self-deceiving priest who displays all manner of unsavory sins on camera, including alcoholism and inappropriate contact with women in counseling.

We had a good laugh as he told them of his heart for them and how he hoped to never disappoint them as his character had. He asked for prayer for his purity and commented on the myriad temptations that face each and every pastor, priest and teacher worldwide. Pray for your Pastors!

The foundational verse of the film was "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." James 2:18-20.

John and Ed Priddy of the Windrider Christian Forum were very kind to allow me to set up a display at their forum at the Mountain View Church. Each year, Windrider invites college students from Christian Universities to come to Sundance, watch the films and engage the culture. They are now the largest single ticket-buying block at Sundance and I was honored to be a part of their excellent program.

Windrider showed several films and held a Q & A with the international group of filmmakers.

At Sundance proper, I saw some great films ("Sin Nombre, "Yes Men Fix the World") and some not so great films. I am happy to say that I would put the best of the 168 Films up against the Sundance Shorts ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! That made me feel good.

"168" Films, for the most part do not wallow. They do not celebrate base and debauched themes.

Many of the films at Sundance celebrate darkness and hoplessness. There are also many gay films featured prominently.

Going to Sundance truly reinforces the mandate we have: to change the world thru the media. It is so very important, for they who control the stories control the culture. And recently, darkness has held sway in the media, be it tv, film or the web.

As we wandered Main Street, my friend and I met a gay man who desperately wanted connection and to be heard. He wanted to tell his story. 50-year-old Corey's parents (from Salt Lake City, Utah) are devout Mormons and they are ashamed of him.

He told us how he'd bought a flat some years ago, and how his lover had poisoned him, trying to kill him and steal the house. Corey was in a coma for some time and though he has recovered, his thoughts are muddled and confused. He is desperate to know God, but he has much trouble discerning what is real and what is lies and distraction.

We talked to him for quite awhile and it was so beautiful that it made me tear up at one point. Absent from our interaction was any sense of baggage or judgemental attitudes on either of our parts. He accepted us for what we were, concerned humans looking out for our wounded, confused brother.

He allowed us to pray for him right there in the middle of Main Street. We prayed that he would receive clarity from the Lord in Jesus' name and that his family and he would reconcile themselves.

I gave him my card and I hope to hear from him and to encourage him to continue seeking all the time. I told him to seek and he will find, knock and the door will be opened.

Thank you Jesus for using me thus.

Pray for Corey.


Awake and Dreaming

I find myself dreaming at times yet I'm still awake.

There's a Christian on the other end of the line, yet they are spouting and spouting endless rain and tragic arguments, and not connecting with what I know of the Book... "Everyone does it. It's ok..."

What book are they reading.

With all the great excitement that comes with 70 or so films preparing to be made, there's been a steady stream of piqued interest. New interest. Self interest.

Now, I know business must be done. But, c'mon. There are principles and the faithful are faithful only if they DON'T COMPROMISE on their faith, right?

So, lately I get calls from some who want to call the shots and dictate their way and I start to feel sick. No, I start to feel a tangible presence of self over all. And it stinks.

And my friend tries to convince me to do something that ain't right because he can make money doing it.

And the arguments don't make any sense and I ain't buying it.

I know how completely hollow it feels to engage in what I know in my bones feels wrong.

And my self-interest isn't sufficient to pose a real conflict, to where I can't be trusted, so I feel safe. I feel I can be trusted.

I pray to God, thanks for testing me and letting me prove trustworthy in small things.

For, if not trustworthy in the small things, then who would trust me with true riches? Or you?

I hope that by being somewhat cryptic, I can hold onto my friends, warn them and warn others to avoid the foolishness of compromise.

I heard once that true confidence and fulfillment only comes from knowing your duty, and tho it's hard, fulfilling the call to the best of your ability. I think it's right, but the truth is elusive.

Pilot said "What is truth?" Is that is the most profound question a human can utter? I think so. (and then there's the most profound admission) But, what do I know?



All that glitters is not gold. It's been 6.5 years since we started the 168 Film Project. I look back on all the challenges and the triumphs and what it has cost to get here and I ask, was it worth it?

Personally, it has cost me much of my time, energy and focus from being a writer/director. But, the accomplishments of one really do pale in comparison to advances among a group of folks with the strength of conviction of a greater good.

168's stated purpose is to illuminate the Word of God and to assist emerging filmmakers in forging a career that is honoring to the teachings of the Judeo/Christian bible. This has been done in every year of the contest. Following are some examples.

A Producer said: "I finally realized that God doesn't want to be on MY team, he wants me to be on HIS team!"

One Producer said: "Before 168, God and I weren't talking. Now we have a relationship."

An agnostic director said: "After 168, I am no longer agnostic. I now consider myself a seeker, because I can no longer deny the truth of the words of Jesus."

Ron became involved with 168 only because of his interest in filmmaking. After learning to trust the men and women involved with the project, he later trusted in Jesus and even was baptized on the set after the finished shooting the baptismal scene. He is now in seminary on the way to becoming a youth pastor.

A distraught young girl had decided to commit suicide. Before she did, she wanted to treat herself to a dream she had, making a movie. Because of the kindness she received on the set of a 168 project, she was deeply moved and decided to allow herself to live, and to live for the saviour!

How lasting is a human commitment, especially in Hollywood?

Hollywood can be a very lonely place. A population of dreamers (Christian or not) is prone to enslavement to their own dreams. I submit that our dreams and their selfish pursuit mean nothing. There is a narrow passage that leads to fulfillment and few find it. It is so very elusive.

I am watching as the filmmakers and actors and actresses who have cut teeth working on 168 projects grow up. They are starting to achieve significant things and to garner the success for which they have worked so hard.

In 3000 years of "evolution" it is really strange to me that humans still wrestle with the same foibles, specifically pride, materialism, lust greed, envy and on and on. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and though they may see the dangers, the seduction of the world is all too potent a weapon for many to resist.

I know of one person (we'll call Desire), for whom I can say it has always been about Desire and no one else. There is a masquerade toward helping others, but at the end of the day, it's all about Desire. So, when Desire is fulfilled and the means don't quite justify the end, what follows may be a leftover gnawing that this artist may or may not understand. And at the inevitable end of intoxicating success, will it still be all about how powerfully God is moving and working into the dreams of Desire?

Who is this person? It's also you and me. The Lord gives and takes, disciplines and rewards. He is good today, tomorrow and yesterday.

Seduction is clothed in many raiments and in the future, only one thing is sure: seduction is offered to all without prejudice. Some of us are tested by the praise and the success we receive. Will we be ever-humble? In our heart of hearts, is it really, truly all about us??

How would we REALLY know? Oh, yeah we will find out in the end, but what about now??

Psalm 119:9-16 gives a pretty good clue:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (niv)

More words to live by in:

Psalm 37:3-8 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. (niv)

And finally, Ecclesiastes 11 Has great wisdom and exhortation to venture, to work, to live, & to enjoy...as well as a warning.

4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap...

6 Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well...

9 Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. (niv)

Peace out!